While the 14.3 percent hike in Bagwell's ballot — last year he only snagged 41.7 percent of votes — shows progress, the four-time All-Star and fixture in the Astros organization deserves enshrinement.
His numbers aren't necessarily gaudy. Through 15 seasons, the slugger belted 449 homers, clubbed 2,314 hits, knocked in 1,529 RBIs, scored 1,517 runs and boasted a lifetime .297 average.
But Bagwell was extremely consistent in all categories despite falling short of notable plateaus.
During eight of his 15 seasons, he finished with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs, usually two benchmarks for a power hitter's success. That total nearly reached nine in 2002, but Bagwell fell two RBIs short of the century mark.
Defensively, the 1994 National League MVP was a force and earned a Gold Glove to his credit. If it wasn't for an arthritic shoulder condition that shortened Bagwell's career at 37, he could've officially padded his numbers alongside the greats.
Still, with his current lifetime stats, Bagwell ranks 57th overall in Baseball-Reference's Wins Above Replacement chart. He would be higher in the sabermetric rankings if it strictly included position players.
Even so, he places above Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn, Ernie Banks and Kirby Puckett in the WAR category. He towers over future Cooperstown locks Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome, too.
Bagwell's achievements impressed ex-Braves manager Bobby Cox — a future Hall of Famer -– enough to endorse him back in August 2010.
"Jeff Bagwell was [in Houston] for so long and starred every year," Cox said last year. "For me a guy that dominated like that for one team, even in the league stats through the years. His are up there with anybody's. I would put him in right away.
"So he would get my vote on the first ballot."
But the snub is partly due to playing in the Steroid Era. Although Bagwell denied using performance-enhancing drugs, the first baseman's broad shoulders and booming production have triggered suspicions.
Despite dodging positive drug tests, Bagwell's achievements were still overshadowed by known dopers, especially at first base. Former St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire easily snagged a few All-Star appearances away from him.
The PED Era certainly continues to haunt Bagwell in retirement. But a second glance at his contributions — and the culture it took place in — should improve his stock next year.
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